World Wide Web Review Feminism and Pregnancy on the Internet

Article excerpt

Thousands of websites provide various bits of information about pregnancy. A typical Internet search leads to sites offering maternity and children's clothing, interactive tools to help the mother-to-be to keep track of her developing fetus, furniture, and a wide range of accessories. It is a major challenge, though, to find fact-based (as opposed to myth-based) websites, without a lot of advertising, that in some way emphasize empowerment of the mother-to-be. Some search results have been left out of this review because they are merely single pages of larger sites devoted to childbirth and childrearing. On the other hand, since it is difficult to find quality feminist sites just on pregnancy, some of those reviewed here also encompass, or even emphasize, the feminist mother.

Eliminating poor sites is easier than finding quality examples. Better results can be obtained by expanding the terms used in any search, using a variety of search engines and meta-search engines, and using the advanced search option available in many search engines to limit the results. Terms such as "pregnancy" and "pregnancy and feminism" yield very few worthy results. Many of the sites reviewed here were found by searching for such phrases as "feminist mother" and "feminist parenting." Choice of search engine makes a big difference as well. Highly recommended search and meta-search engines are All the Web (www.alltheweb.com), Vivisimo (www.vivisimo.com), and Ixquick (www.ixquick.com). I also found it helpful to eliminate all "com" domain names (used by commercial enterprises) from a search. Still, my list of results included many interesting single Web pages that were actually notes for college courses or personal pages by students and faculty members associated in some fashion with an "edu" domain name (which is set aside for four-year educational institutions). Including the domain "gov" (which is set aside for federal government websites) led to many useful sites hosted by reliable agencies, such as the National Women's Health Information Center, whose pregnancy site is described first below.

Healthy Pregnancy (subsite of 4woman.gov, The National Women's Health Information Center) URL: http://www.4woman.gov/Pregnancy/index.htm Developed/maintained by: United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health Last updated: June 2003

Reviewed: August 2003; revisited: November 2003

This nicely organized site includes very recent information, including the latest studies in the field of obstetrics. Content is arranged under six topics: Pre-Pregnancy, Pregnancy, Preparing for the New Baby, Childbirth and Beyond, Tools, and Adoption & Foster Care. Some subtopics that might not be emphasized elsewhere are included here--e.g., what to expect after the baby is born and how to find financial assistance and aid--not surprising, given that this site is sponsored by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The site's content is available in Spanish as well as English.

Despite being an abridged version of the pregnancy information that is available in print, this website is recommended for its clarity and ease of use. Most of the links are for internal sites of the National Women's Health Information Center. (It is odd that a study attributing breastfeeding to lower cancer risks is linked to a CNN report.) There are no ads; Much of the information presented is intended for the mother-to-be.

Pregnancy (at Childbirth.org)

URL: http://www.childbirth.org/articles/preglinks.html

Developed by: Robin Elise Weiss

Maintained by: Childbirth educators, midwives, doulas, and nurses

Last updated: Unknown (copyright 1994-1998)

Reviewed: August 2003; revisited: November 2003

The subject categories in this Childbirth.org subsite prompted its inclusion in this review: Basics, Complications, Emotions, Exercise, FAQs, Labor, Lifestyle, Pregnancy Week by Week, Signs, Symptoms, Testing, and Your Baby. …